Twenty large dams have already been built on Mexico’s rivers. Mexico boasts the highest dam in the Americas and the sixth largest dam in the world: the Chicoasén Dam in Chiapas State. Mexico’s dams have forcibly displaced more than 167,000 people. The Temascal Dam in Oaxaca displaced close to 25,000 Mazatec indigenous peoples, a nation that spoke 56 languages. Most were not compensated for their land and losses, and when they protested their homes were set on fire. Promises of electricity and irrigation were not met, and close to 200 displaced people died.
Today, communities living along the Papagayo, Usumacinta, Grijalva and many other rivers are threatened by plans to build hydropower dams to power vast regional development programs.
Opposition to dams by affected communities has grown, and in 2004 Mexican activists, dam–affected peoples and NGOs joined together to form the Mexican Movement of Peoples Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER). MAPDER aims to defend rivers, water, land and communities from dams; to achieve reparations for the damages caused by existing dams; and to demand the decommissioning of dams that present a danger to communities. MAPDER was created in 2004 in Guerrero State where La Parota Dam is planned for construction. The second meeting of MAPDER took place in early 2005 at the site of the proposed Arcediano Dam in the State of Jalisco. A third meeting took place in Mexico City in March, 2006.
Today, International Rivers is supporting the struggle of the communities affected by the La Parota Dam in their efforts to stop the project, and continues to offer support and assistance to MAPDER.